Looking for love this Valentine’s Day? According to a recent CareerBuilder.com study, many of us look no further than where we spend the majority of our time: the workplace. In fact, 4 out of 10 people have dated someone at work and 17 percent have done it twice. With so many people falling in love at the office, it’s important for employers to understand the cost of workplace romance and what can be done to minimize its impact.
Why do so Many People Fall in Love at Work?
Because it’s easy. According to John Duffy, licensed psychologist and best-selling author, “We see the people we work with more than anyone else. In many corporate cultures, people work together for many hours a day, often well into the evening. They get to know one another quite intimately, and sometimes become attracted to one another and fall in love.” While workplace relationships work out for some people, they can cause problems for not only the couple involved, but their co-workers and employers.
The Cost of Workplace Romance
There are several ways workplace romance can cause trouble for employers, including:
- Appearances of favoritism when it comes to work assignments and pay raises, which can negatively affect an entire office.
- Potential conflicts of interest.
- Disruptive gossip, rumors, and innuendo, which can hurt overall employee productivity.
- Assertions of sexual harassment if the relationship ends badly.
- Potential legal consequences from sexual harassment allegations.
- Damaged work relationships, which can extend beyond the couple involved in a failed romance.
- Risk of losing valued employees who feel the need to leave after a relationship doesn’t work out.
Managing the Cost of Workplace Romance
All employers, regardless of size, should have a formal policy on workplace relationships. Establishing clear and consistent guidelines around office dating will help employers avoid the potential problems and complications outlined above. Because issues around workplace relationships can be complex and frequently require an understanding of personnel law, it is wise to consult a professional when developing your policy.
Help in Developing Workplace Dating Policies in NH